Linare Sub-$500 Notebook Review

When I read the article on Slashdot & OSNews that Linare was putting out a sub-$500 notebook, I immediately jumped on the deal. I purchased a laptop directly from Linare in early February. Their site stated that I would receive the laptop in 2-4 weeks. I waited in anticipation.After the third week and no information received I decided to e-mail Linare and find out when I would be contacted, and more importantly when I would receive my laptop. I got an e-mail that said “Your laptop will be shipped in 1st week of march and will be notifying you the Tracking Numbers Via email “. Great I thought, that’s not so bad and still within the four week window promised.

By March 7th, 2005 I still had not received my laptop, I decided to e-mail Linare again and see what’s going on. On March 8th I received an e-mail that stated “Thank you for your interest in Linare products . your order will be shipped on or before 14th march with out fail . Sorry for the delay , due to heavy back order we were not able to ship you earlier.” I decided to wait and see how this played out, so I sat back and waited.

March 14 came, and I still had no tracking information so I decided to e-mail again and get a status. The usual reply followed “Thank you for your interest in Linare products .your order will be shipped on or before 22nd march with out fail . Sorry for the delay , due to heavy back order we were not able to ship you earlier”. By now I am getting really frustrated. I figured they were a small business and cut them some slack. I decided to wait yet again. I mean it’s a decent speed machine at a good price, maybe they were just overwhelmed.

I decided to take a pre-emptive approach this time and e-mail on March 21st to ask for numbers. Since this would ship the following day without fail I expected that they would just reply with the tracking numbers. Instead I received this gem “Thank you for your interest in Linare products . your order will be shipped before this week end . Sorry for the delay”. Ok, the weekends coming up. I’ve waited this long, what the hell.

On Monday, March 28th I informed Linare that the laptop had not shipped yet and that I would turn this matter over to my credit card fraud department if I did not receive tracking numbers immediately. Their reply was not very astounding with “Thank you for your interest in Linare products . your order will be shipped before this week end . Sorry for the delay?” I took Tuesday to mean March 29th.

By now I was pissed so I decided to e-mail Linare with a letter explaining that I would do the following things if I didn’t receive tracking numbers immediately:

1) File complaints with the BBB and The Federal Trade Commision
2) Hand this matter over to my credit card fraud department
3) Release the details of my experience to the Linux community

The next morning I received a call from the company asking that I wait 1 more day, which I agreed to. I was informed that I would get a check for $50 dollars for my patience and that I would have tracking numbers the next day. I called back the following day to get the tracking numbers and was informed that they were having problems with their distribution facility and that I would receive tracking numbers by Monday. I was also told that my laptop had shipped. On Monday April 4th I received the laptop and tracking numbers. I had assumed that this would be the end of my woes, but this was not the case.

The laptop shipped with a pre-installed Linare copy and manual. No recovery CD was included. I decided to give Linare a try, I opened up the manual and read that the Linare OS is shipped with the default root password of “password”. After trying that a few times, it was obviously not correct. I booted into single user mode and changed the password myself, this allowed me to get into the OS. Shortly afterwards I recieved an e-mail from Linare (without me contacting them) saying the default password is “123456”.

The theme was ugly and too Windows’d out for my tastes. I decided to wipe and load FC3, in addition I wanted to upgrade the ram from a meager 128 MB to at least 512 MB. I opened up all of the compartments on the bottom of the laptop, and found nothing but empty compartments and the hard drive. I figured I’ll e-mail Linare and ask about a manual or instructions on upgrading RAM. In addition I wanted to get my $50 refund from Linare, so I thought it was time to e-mail them again.

I explained that I wanted to find out the status of my refund and I wanted to get a manual or instructions on adding ram. I received an e-mail explaining that this laptop could only accept 512 MB sodimms. I tried again stating that I know what type of ram to use, just need to know where to put it. The reply was classic Linare with “Thank you for your interest in Linare Products . you can upgarde only till 512 MB of Ram. so please do kindly select a Ram Module of Hynix and upgrade it by fixing it in the DIM slot”.

After my third back and fourth on this subject, I sent a very angry e-mail asking if they had anyone with the comprehension level higher than a kindergartener or am I stuck with YOU! I never got a reply. Calling their number now leads to an IRV (press 1 for sales, etc.) that hangs up when you select anything. It is now May 5, 2005 and in conclusion I am stuck without my refund, I waited two months for a product that should have shipped within two weeks, and I still have no clue where to add more RAM. To all who think a sub-$500 notebook is too good to be true, you are right. In hindsight I should have got a Mac Mini. The notebook is pretty speedy, although it swaps like a beast (editor’s note: Fedora Core 3 requires at least 192 MB and it’s pretty unusable with Gnome and 128 MBs (been there, done that), but Linare’s strip-down FC2-based Linux runs ‘ok’ on 128 MB with KDE). Anyways this is what I think of the whole deal:

Athlon XP Mobile 1800+ – Pretty fast processor
100% Linux compatible – ships with Linare Linux
Standard USB & Firewire

Standard CD Drive on low-end model
No copy of the Linare OS (if you delete it, you can’t recover it)
A bit on the bulky side
Took 2 Months from order to ship
Doesn’t come w/ manual (No idea where to add more ram)
Linare’s support!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  1. 2005-05-10 4:33 am
  2. 2005-05-13 3:31 am